Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walking by faith vs. walking by sight

I came across this devotional, and it's got me thinking about a subject I wrestle with on a regular basis - walking by faith vs. walking by sight.

In my high school senior yearbook, for the quote that would follow my name and define who I was at 18, I chose the verse 2 Corinthians 5:7: “We live by faith, not by sight.” I was looking for a way to say that I loved Jesus without actually saying that I loved Jesus.

Crazy bold, I know.

I didn’t have a clue at the time what that statement really meant. I don’t think I even understood the difference between faith and sight. I’m certain I had no clue how much faith daily life would require of me in the future and how much I would long to be able to see the path before me. The thing is, there’s faith that leads to salvation and then there’s faith to walk every moment after that. I understood the first kind of faith, but I didn’t even know I was missing the second kind.

Early in my middle school years, I took the step of faith to say, “Yes, I believe I am a sinner. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died and then rose again to take the punishment that I deserve. Please, Lord, forgive me and make me clean.”

However, in the years and decades that followed, even though I was ordering my life to God’s priorities, I didn’t really let Him have control.

I was seeking God and trying to be more like Him. I was praying and learning from His Word, but I never really let go and let Him have control. I worried like I was in control. I planned like I was in control. I managed people like I was in control. I didn’t exercise faith in my daily life that allowed me to walk in any direction unless I could see the outcome for miles ahead.

Contrary to what I had proclaimed so proudly in my high school yearbook, I was living entirely by sight. The problem with living by sight is that, at its very best, my sight is nothing more than a poor reflection in a mirror. I lived a couple of decades essentially squinting into my rearview mirror, thinking that my view was good enough to drive. While I thought I was living a safe, protected life by attempting to control my circumstances, I was really just living an unspiritual, fearful life.

However, around the time I turned 30, God began to do a work in my life that would forever alter the way I lived. He graciously turned out the lights and allowed me to stand in the pitch dark. He allowed circumstances and pain into my life that I could not overcome on my own. I can see now that it was His love for me that led Him to bring me to the place where I had to face my own inability to solve, plan, control, and manage. I stood in the middle of the pitch dark that my life had become and I began to truly trust Him for the first time. I finally quit trying to get more “sight” and chose faith, believing that if God sent something my way, it must be good for me. I wish I could say that I chose to trust God before all else, but the honest truth is that I didn’t truly trust Him until there was no other option. But I think late is better than never.

The good news is that faith is a gift from God. We can’t conjure it up or fake it. We need only ask God to provide it, making sure it is not sight for which we are asking. And then we exercise it. I have found it to be like a muscle that gets stronger every time I use it. It starts out weak, but each time I choose to trust in the name of the Lord instead of freaking out because I can’t see the path in front of me, my blood pressure goes down and my faith muscle gets stronger. Then the next time I need it, it is more ready for action.

To be honest, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing since I discovered that I could live by faith instead of sight, but, by the grace of God, I have experienced slow, steady growth in the direction of trusting Him. And the peace and joy that comes with being on His agenda instead of my own is filling me up and carrying me through.

Friend, I know you may be standing in the middle of a really dark place right now. I know it is tremendously difficult to have peace when your circumstances appear bleak. But you can take comfort from the fact that darkness is as light to God.

He can see just fine right where you are and He will lead the way if you allow Him to do so. He also says He loves you with an everlasting love and He will never, never leave you or forsake you. Don’t wait as long as I did to choose to trust Him with your daily life. Your own sight will never fulfill you or protect you the way the God who loves you will.

Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Is. 50:10b


So if you find yourself in a circumstance, and you pray about it, trust God with it, and then still try to do something to improve your circumstance, are you walking by faith? Or does the very act of trying to do something mean you're still trying to take the problem out of God's hands and you really aren't walking by faith?

For example, we're really strapped financially right now, primarily with the mortgage. We're tithing faithfully, have been since Brian was working at Lone Star last year and making crap nothin', and we believe that yes, God will meet our needs. But still, things are tight, and some things that surely seem like needs to us are out of our reach at the moment. We pray, and we acknowledge that all we have comes from God, none of it is "ours" in our own power, and we're doing our best to be cheerful, faithful givers. But we're also trying to see if we can sell some things on Craigslist, both to clear them out because we don't need them and to have a little extra cash come in. Even though we pray and say we trust God to meet our needs, are we trying to hang on to the issue by trying to sell a $20 something or other on Craigslist?

I roll this around in my head a lot. I can't imagine that God expects us to say, "OK, God, we're turning it all over to You" and then just sit on our hands and wait for something to happen. I mean, it seems like if we don't take chances on things where we've prayed and the answer hasn't been a resounding no, then we may be shutting off some avenue by which God could work if that turns out to be His plan. I know "God helps those who help themselves" isn't biblical, but it certainly seems sound - if we never take any action at all after praying about what should be done, should we expect God to drop the solution ready-made into our laps?

And of course, if what we're doing is walking by sight, walking by faith is going to be a big challenge for me. I don't sit on my hands and do nothing very well!

Thoughts? Does anyone else wrestle with this question, or is it just me?

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